Improved peak season performances by UK carriers in 2015

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Left: Dick Stead, executive chairman, Yodel, speaking at the Delivery Conference 2016

The general consensus at this year’s Delivery Conference held on February 2, 2016, in London, was that the 2015 peak season performance of UK delivery firms had greatly improved when compared with the same period in 2014.

This was largely attributed to improved communication channels between retailers and carriers, leading to a wider distribution of parcel volumes during Cyber Week, commencing with Black Friday on November 27, 2015. In some cases, carriers had contracted out or allotted certain parcel volumes to retailers, which ensured that they could provide guarantees on delivering next day orders. In some cases, carriers were speaking to retailers on the phone every hour in order to adjust contracts or allotted volumes, allowing them to better manage online shoppers’ expectations.

“Across the industry there was a greater recognition of what happens when you get it wrong because of the previous year,” said Roger Morris, head of parcels for Royal Mail. “There was a much higher level of engagement, not only between us and our retail customers, but also with the e-commerce and seller’s marketing teams who run the time sensitive promotions. So there was a much greater spread throughout the week including the Cyber Monday promotions.

“It’s not just delivery companies that get hit by dramatic peaks but also retail operations. Whether its ramping up the website to make sure you can handle the traffic or making sure there’s enough staff in the warehouse to get the orders out. It doesn’t really help anybody to have really extreme false peaks on one day only.”

In Yodel’s case, the carrier had hired 7,000 additional members of staff to cope with the peak season and achieved an overall customer satisfaction rating of 82%, despite handling a record-breaking five million parcels during the week. This news had been soured by a report released the previous evening by the Channel 4 Dispatches team where an undercover journalist filmed Yodel employees aggressively throwing packages onto the belts of the sorting center.

Dick Stead, executive chairman of Yodel, addressed the issue openly during the conference, saying that the behavior was inexcusable but that it represented 10 minutes out of 40 hours of filming. He also attributed the behavior to a lack of supervision, something that would be addressed moving forward.

Stead later issued a statements saying, “The allegations brought to our attention by Dispatches indicated some unacceptable practices. There were some specific and isolated incidents that were brought to light that we are investigating and are taking appropriate action on. We are very sorry for the occasions when we let customers down.”

Another focus of this year’s conference had been the ability to provide online shoppers with estimated delivery times as well as inflight delivery options such as specifying safe storage locations.

Yodel, Hermes and DPD all announced plans to launch improved delivery windows, although DPD stole the show with the announcement that it would be launching its DPD precise service in summer 2016. The new service will allow ASOS customers to pick the day and hour of the delivery, depending on availability. DPD expects further retailers to join at a later date.

February 3, 2016

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Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for nearly a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and e-commerce to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.

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